The history of Tonfa – an Okinawan martial arts weapon.
The Tonfa is widely considered as an Okinawan martial arts weapon. However, exactly where the origin of this Martial Arts Weapon comes from is not certain, but the experts believe it originated from somewhere within either China or possibly Indonesia.
These Chinese and Southern Asian martial arts both used this form of weapon and it is thought that it was brought to the Japanese island of Okinawa through their initial influences. The Chinese, however, believe that it was a development and also a adaptation of the crutch and were brought about by the restrictions placed on the use of all combat and fighting martial arts weapons during the reign of the ruler ShoShin in order to to stabilise the country after a long and bitter period of civil wars.
These restrictions brought about the development of some very unconventional weapons developed from various farming and agricultural tools. It is said the Tonfa was the development of a wooden handle from a millstone, which was a common tool at the time.
In modern times the Tonfa itself is considered to be the basis for the PR-24 side handle police baton, or Police Tonfa which is used by police forces the world over. However, the police combat application is considered different as it is more for crowd control rather than a weapon as such.
The Tonfa has always been traditionally made from red oak wood and always made in pairs for use as a double handed weapon of self defence. Although primarily used for self defence the Tonfa makes a formidable offensive attacking weapon.
Once mastered this very versatile martial arts weapon lends itself to a series of many different attacking combinations that will render an opponent quite useless with just a single blow.
There is also known to be a similar weapon called the mai sun sawk and is used in krabi krabong, itself an ancient martial art. Without doubt there are similarities between the two weapons and the Mai Sun Sawk could very easily of been the predecessor the Tonfa itself.
Effectively a Tonfa is a stick with a handle, which, over the centuries, has been turned into a formidable martial arts weapon. In my informational website Tonfa.org you can find out additional information about this martial arts weapon including techniques and training methods.
The Tonfa is also known by various other names:
The use of many Okinawan Martial Arts Weapons and especially the Tonfa is found in many modern martial arts clubs these days with both Training and Techniques being taught to many students.
Japanese fighting weapons are many and varied, with a long and interesting history. Their sizes and shapes have changed little over the years and the weapons you see now are much the same as they would have been back in the days of the Samurai Warriors of old.
Martial arts training that uses many different types of weapons is often seen in the Dojo’s today and should be encouraged, in keeping with the old traditional ways of Okinawan martial arts weapons.
Hopefully, there’s something here for everyone.